A septic system’s drainfield is the portion of a septic system that absorbs and disperses wastewater effluent into the earth after use in a household. If you live on septic, every flush of the toilet or load of laundry enters this drainfield after being pretreated in the septic tank and percolates into the soil and “disappears”. As a drainfield or any other type of soil absorption system ages, it absorbs less and less over time and eventually the sewage entering the system outweighs the absorption ability of it, causing an overflow or back up.

A Diagram of a Septic System

Saturated drainfields tend to show themselves this time of year. With this year’s wet season winding down, the groundwater table in the earth is raised and older soil absorption systems (i.e. drainfields, drywells) can struggle to keep up with the absorption of household sewage. If your drainfield is struggling to keep up with your usage, don’t ignore the problem because it will only get worse.

“I’ve never had a problem before” is not a valid excuse to ignore the problem. Just like every other appliance in your house, it ages over time and eventually wears out and needs replaced.

Think of it this way. A new kitchen sponge is going to have the ability to absorb the most sink water. As the sponge ages, it deteriorates and absorbs less and less as time goes on, becoming dirty and clogged up. When it becomes so clogged up and deteriorated, it will need replaced. A drainfield is similar to this, on a much larger scale, of course.

Old drainfields become dirty and worn out, slogging up the pores in the soil that once absorbed water. When the soil’s ability to absorb this sewage effluent diminishes, the only solution to the problem is to replace it and install a new soil absorption system.